Skip to main content
5:00 am
website. over 8,000 people called to get covered call center since its lunch. the medicaid expansion has been a huge success. as evidenced by approximately 100,000 people signing up for county care, prior to the october 1st lunch date. this is a special waiver through which residents of cook county can enroll early and start receiving health coverage in 2013 through cook county facilities. in january, they would be rolled over into the regular medicaid program, another innovative program in illinois was an express enrollment process for s.n.a.p. recipients. in august the state of illinois sent a notice to about 123,000
5:01 am
s.n.a.p. recipients, households with single adults, not disabled, offering them an option for express enrollment in the newly eligible group by signing and returning the form. as of october the 21st, the state received 46,000 of those forms back and about 26,000 people had been enrolled. and there's -- they are in the process of enrolling the rest. finally the state has launched a new smart online application system called aid, application for benefit eligibility. the new site was launched october 1st and the website has been functioning smoothly. 47,766 accounts have been
5:02 am
created on abe and 28,729 applications have been submitted for processing. and we looked at how our newspapers have expressed their analysis of what was taping place, the northwest herald, reported that through only two days get covered illinois had more than 230,000 visitors and nearly 800,000 page views with more than 5,000 applications. the associated press stated that chicago hair stylists and bartender mike leon called the federal call center after he tried the federal website five days in a row. and couldn't get it to work. call center staff helped him and he got through in two minutes. so our experiences have been perhaps different. i thank you very much and yield back. >> thank you.
5:03 am
miss black is recognized? >> thank you, mr. chairman for being here today. i want to go back to what dr. price said. as a caregiver for over 40 years, i certainly now and have heard from my patients over the years about preexisting conditions and i do think we probably could have fixed that without having a total government takeover as we're seeing here. not about politics, about patients. and i want to go to something from my state, since the october 1st launch date, i received overwhelming number of stories from my constituents with concerns about the health care law. >> 23,000 are losing access to the state sponsored program which covered those with preexisting conditions, seniors and small children and small businesses. one small business owner, greg from my district shared this story with me. i want to share this with diane. i operate a small painting business and very happy with the
5:04 am
cover tennessee program for small businesses and their employees. it had a small co-pay and covered up to $25,000 each year. it covered 12 doctors visits and annual physical at reasonable costs and this is being canceled effective january 2014 because it does not meet the requirements of obama care. this directly contradicts the comments made by president obama that we could keep our existing program. they had affordable health care that they liked but they didn't get to keep that. and i ask, is this right or is this just for this group of people. these 28,000 citizens of tennessee are now forced to find new coverage plans on the health care website there are people out there, this is not fair and just for. let me turn to another piece. they did their own unit testing and cms was responsible for the
5:05 am
end to end testing or the systems integrated testing, making sure that each unit worked properly with the next unit. now, that testing failed and every contractor has said that cms made that decision for the launching of the website. you claim you didn't know there were surge problems with the website. cms is the project manager on this and cms called the shots either there was company management on your part or cms's part, those you work with or ignored the fundamental concepts taken into account when this was built. i want to know if -- i want to know why if sufficient systems integrated testing with a not conducted. you made the decision to move forward with the website, was there a systems integ ration testing that was done? >> so, the testing was actually
5:06 am
done -- we started testing almost immediately. it was kind of continuous testing. i think what you're asking, did we do testing across the hub and all of the agencies and the answer is yes. and so that was done and then the question inside the ffm, did we do end to end testing and the answer to that is yes, that was done. >> to, those tests were done, stress tests, load tests, how you accounted for and tested for peak hours. so stress testing and load testing were done. in retrospect, we were projecting three times the volume that we ever saw on the medicare part d experience. because we were dealing with a much smaller population. so in the first few hours of the site, it had probably five times the volume that we ever projected. in retrospect, we could have done more about load testing. >> i want to know if we can get a copy of those tests so we can
5:07 am
actually see what was done. >> if you can make those results available to the committee, we'd appreciate it. >> thank you. >> mr. young is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. as a former management consultant i'm per plexed to the rollout, i would like to explore with you maybe what the problems were. let me step back and talk about the issue of openness and transparency. it was cbs news that last week reported as we went into the summer of 2012, there are certain key regulations, contractors were waiting on. they had to be issued in order for them to do their work, put forward requirements for their i.t. systems and put together health could we put up a slide to illustrate the regulatory
5:08 am
issuance pats earn. we see that we had 109 proposed regulations put forward by hhs, then starting in the summer, before the presidential election, we had zero regulations through the election and since that time period, we've seen 60 regulations put forward by hhs. my question to you, miss tavenner and cbs news did indicate that the rules were ready to go back in june or july according to one insider that they quoted in their report. so why did hhs stop issuing regulations as the person on the inside of the so-called quarterback of this website? >> so the regulation process, i don't know any point we stopped issuing regulations as you can see. it's been a continuous process. the regulations, we were basically -- >> there was a gap up there. >> i do see the gap. >> how do you account for that? >> a two-month gap.
5:09 am
i don't know that would be unusual. if we were to go back, i'm happy to go back and map the last four years. >> we think cbs news missed that? >> i don't know what cbs news did. i'm telling you, we had a continuous regulatory process going on. we have worked with the public. there's obviously a lot of back and forth between us and it would be in a regulation process. it's not unusual to take two months or four months or longer. >> you can assure person politics played no role in that? >> the regulatory process was continuous. at no point were we working on papers or getting work done. >> as you heard here today, there are real consequences to our constituents for the failures and shortcomings of the website. >> let me ask you, let me talk about -- >> i've got limited time. >> i want to explain -- the problems with the website. do you want me to explain the problems with the website? >> first of all, i would say
5:10 am
it's not a website. it's an insurance program. and sometimes i think, we think it's like a website, a website looks at things. this is a complicated program tied to 34 states, including very individualized programs. people need to understand. >> i like to go back to, which is the website associated with signing up for requirement government sanctioned health care. marvin writes on behalf of his wife told by her insurer that due to health care reform effective 1/1/14, the policy will be terminate the as of january 1, 2014. when can she sign up for health care? >> does it go on to talk about other policies sore just that she's canceled and that it's? >> it said these cancel -- >> eligible and can. >> needs to sign up through the website. >> she can sign through the website or go to the individual issuer. >> time is expired.
5:11 am
>> mr. besara. we appreciate you're being here. i think it's become very clear and i hope in all hearings that take place further, that we understand that we have to work together. it is unacceptable to have an important part of the health insurance program, this website not work the way it should. in fact, let me give you a quick example. there's a gentleman from los angeles, 34-year-old male, andrew striker and he's been reported in a number of press reports. he waited three hours to try to get on the website and finally had a chance to apply. he says that was tough. the good news for mr. striker is he's saving $6,000 as a result of being able to apply for the plan. it's unacceptable for anyone to have to wait even three hours. and even though he says he would have waited all day given the result he got, what we want is for everyone who experienced $6,000 savings, to finally have the health security that you and
5:12 am
every single member on this committee has when it comes to health care. we don't have to worry about going bankrupt if we have to take our child to the doctor, to the hospital. and that's what andrew striker now will have. so let's fix this website, not fix ate on the website, fix the website. if i can put on the screen the application process. today if you apply on -- for the affordable care act insurance you would have essentially three pages and the third page is more a significant page than anything else, to apply to get on a health insurance policy, a health insurance plan. if we could have the next slide, this is what the process was before affordable care, we had 12, 13 pages that you would have to fill out, many asking all sorts of personal questions, very deep medical probing that was done from strep throat, allergies, if you ever suffered that, acne, and all the way to whether you had cancer, heart
5:13 am
disease, even be asked if you had learning disabilities. can you explain why it is all of a sudden we go from 13 or so page application that proebz into your personal life to one only three pages long? >> i think as you're well aware, thanks to changes in the affordable care act, there's no longer the preexisting denial. everyone is entitled to insurance. which was part of the goal. the other thing that i will say, people may talk about the affordable care act or obama care, but once you get through that and actually talk about folks about what's going on for them, if they had a child with a preexisting condition, most of them had issues with insurance, they had to go through this complicated process. they like what they are getting now. >> so no longer will i get asked if i have heart disease, or acne. i can apply and i won't have to worry about what my personal lifestyle is. i will be able to get insurance. and this 13-page application is
5:14 am
now history for all of those folks who had to go ahead and apply through the individual insurance market. what i hope we'll do, again, fix the website, so we can get to the process of giving folks like andrew striker a $6,000 savings. i yield back. >> mr. grifen and mr. shock. >> thank you so much for being here. i've heard a lot of good things about your work from leader cantor, thank you for being here. i wish you well. i first want to say that, as i try to indicate earlier, it's really a false choice to say it's obama care or all of the things that were never fixed in the healthcare world have to continue. there are many different options in between there. i've signed on to legislation that would also deal with preexisting conditions. so i just want to make clear to the public to imply that you have to take all of what obama
5:15 am
care delivers to get to address preexisting conditions, or you get none of that addressed, that's not true. and we can have that debate. let me -- i've heard from a lot of arkansasans, she says, her name is jennifer in little rock. quote, i'm an arkansas state employee, government worker. we received a newsletter from the employ benefit division during open enrollment. our insurance covers less and costs more. it says, quote, these changes were made to more closely align the plans with the affordable care act. another sentence quote, because of this the value of the plans were lowered to be more in line with the law, end quote. i'm quite disgusted, just because the federal government is starting a health insurance marketplace, doesn't mean that my coverage needs to change. but it has and it has changed
5:16 am
for the worse. if you need a copy of this newsletter, please let me know, thank you for working on this problem. i have a copy of the newsletter here. so there are a lot of people that tell that story. and i have pages of it. yes, there are people that are getting covered because of preexisting conditions. my point is, you don't have to do it this way. and that's why a lot of us continue to have a problem with the law. yes, we have voted 43 times or so, but the talking -- what the talking points don't tell you, seven of those votes became law because the president agreed to those things. so the idea that we've had the same exact vote 44 times is talking point nonsense. but i guess what i would ask you is, are these increased premiums and increased co-pays, is that just the cost of -- is that the
5:17 am
cost of providing more access to health care? how do i -- what do i say to people who say, why am i paying more? do i tell them, that's a tax? we didn't call it a tax but that's a tax you got to pay so that more folks have access? is that fair? is that what it is really? >> what i would say to those folks, it's going to depend on their individual, you know, situation because if they are in a group market where they already had group employers sponsored insurance, that's a different situation. if they are in an individual market, what you can say to them now, they'll have access to health care and now have a competitive market. >> if you're paying -- >> time is expired. >> i appreciate you, thank you. >> thank you, all. this discussion about websites that don't work. let's talk about a website that does. on right now, if you go to, health
5:18 am
insurance reality check, headline, you can keep your health insurance if you like it, currently on their website. linda douglas of the white house office of health reform debunks the myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan, if you like it, force you to change doctors, period. to the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them. white cites three sources to substantiate their claim. one of them is a blog post and one is a video of a press conference that the president gave in july. and one is a teletown hall hosted by aarp. if you click on them, the first question that the president was asked came from a woman named margaret in greelly, colorado, mr. president, i've heard i could lose the health insurance that i have currently. and the president says to that question, here's -- i'm quoting, here's a guarantee that i've made, semicolon. if you have insurance you like,
5:19 am
you will be able to keep that insurance, period. that is on website today. reality check is their headline on health insurance reform. let me tell you about the reality check that millions in my district are getting. michelle york from triple digit trucking in jacksonville, illinois, just sent this letter today from blue cross, blue shield. all plans must be compliant with the new health care law. therefore blue cross blue shield health insurance plan that you currently have now will no longer be available after december 31st, your premiums will go from $474 to $865, effective january 1 and nearly 100% increase. she writes to me, do not understand how my current policy can legally be canceled since i'm already doing what i'm supposed to do. what am i supposed to say to miss york in jacksonville,
5:20 am
illinois? >> first thing i would do is encourage her to go talk to the website or go to the call center and see what's available -- >> wait a minute. she is told by the president, the website says if you have health insurance that you like, you will be able to keep it. she has health insurance that she likes and she's been paying her premium, wants to keep it. but she can't. isn't that a lie? >> you know, there's always been the issue where issuers have the ability to stop offering a policy -- >> this is not the issuers wanting to stop to offer policy. the issuer saying we're being mandated that we can't continue to offer this policy. yes or no question, the website, if you like it you can keep it, that's a lie. >> those issuers were grandfathered in in 2010 and choosing to make a different
5:21 am
decision now. >> mr. kind. >> thank you, mr. chairman. miss tavenner, thank you for your patience and indulgence. let me ask you to end on a high note. all of the questions surrounding the aca have been asked and answered and exhausted. i know secretary sebelius will be here tomorrow answer the same questions you had. the key to all of this is make sure all americans have access to quality, affordable health care coverage in their life, period. there may be different ways to doing that but the real key is affordable. what can we bend the cost curve within the health care system so it's more affordable for all americans. you've been given a lot of tools under the affordable care act for cost containment, trying to get better value, good quality of care and much better price. what are you seeing out there right now in that regard and whether or not it's sustainable in the future? >> that's a great question. what we've seen in our early
5:22 am
work with the innovation center and chiefly targeted at the medicare population, the more we tie quaultd and outcomes to payment, the better results we're getting for the individual and lower the cost trend. we've had probably three years of the lowest cost trend in medicaid that we've seen in the last 50 years. that doesn't mean that we don't have to keep fighting it every day. we work with issuers on the private side so they align there. quality programs and their indicator the same as we. it's not a medicare trend but across the entire environment. early success encouraging a lot of work to do. >> i see the recent data that came out about beneficiary costs being revised downward yet again. that's going to be the key to the unfunded liabilities that we're facing driving these budget deficits, rising het care costs. there's a lot that is going. mr. chairman, i would respectfully recommend that some futd you're hearing we call her
5:23 am
back, mainly focused on cost containment within the health care system so we can delve into it in greater detail. >> i'm sure she'll be anxious to come back. >> we have two more. mr. reed and then mr. kelly, mr. reed. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, miss tavenner, we worked together before and i appreciate that relationship. you've demonstrated to me in that relationship and those prior dealings a very high level of competence. i've been listening to your testimony today. and i really want to focus on my oversight responsibilities on this committee. you had indicated to mr. buchanan, that you were not aware prior to october 1st, any problems with the website. did i misinterpret your response to mr. buchanan's question? >> no, we had tested the website
5:24 am
and we were comfortable with its performance. now, like i said, we knew all along there would be as with any new website, some individual glitches we would have to work out. the volume issue and the creation of account issues was not anticipated and obviously took us by surprise. and did not show up in testing. >> that didn't show up in testing. when i read the new york times article they talked about confidential progress reports from health and human services department showing senior officials repeatedly express doubts that the computer systems for the federal exchange would be ready on time blaming delayed regulations and lack of resources and other factors. is that new york times report inaccurate? your microphone. >> sorry. we were under -- working in compressed time frame, for sure. but how we chose to resolve some of that is some of the things that would delay the programs
5:25 am
that were delayed, transfer, spanish, three or four programs we said we will not be adequately test those. we went through testing on the remainder of the wbtd. we also had independent validation, your initial tests being you find errors and correct them, but we went through the testing process. >> i appreciate that. you made some determinations to delay and suspend some of the programs and you had mentioned you had done that through a group decision-making process. there was question as to who was involved in the group decision-making process. you were very hesitant to give names involved in that group -- >> so -- >> do you know the names of people involved? >> the program delay recommendations were cms. we made those recommendations to the secretary in september -- >> and then did she unilaterally make that decision to delay it or did she inform the white house of any indication -- >> i informed white house staff. i informed the secretary of our
5:26 am
decision -- >> perfect. who in the white house staff did you inform? >> i'll be glad to give you that information. >> why can't you give me that information? >> i'm saying it was staff within the white house. i'm happy to give you that the information. >> you don't know the name of the staff member? >> i was talking with several staff. i'm happy to get you that list. >> why can't you tell me that name here today? >> i would want to give you the entire list and data and correct information. i think that's appropriate, mr. chairman. >> all right, mr. kelly. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thanks for being here. i know you have a great deal of experience in the private sector. my question goes back to and i know we've had a lot of talk how it's not working, but the failure to launch is really troubling to me. it is all about the process. my question, who is in charge of this? is it you? >> yes, i'm in charge of the program. >> so there's an old saying, you've got to inspect what you expect. were there any expectations ats all? i keep hearing that we didn't expect this level. we didn't expect this level of
5:27 am
volume. it's incredible for me to sit back and understand that's possibly the case. i think this was designed for failure from the beginning. and it was never achieved to achieve success, it just wasn't. if you're telling me that the -- the bid process, the people that got the final bid to to build t there is no bid process, right? >> there was a bid process. >> so they competed against other people to get this bid. >> yes. >> is there a performance bond with that? >> yes. i'm sure there is, but i want to check on that. >> to my knowledge, there is absolutely no performance bond. >> and i am not the contracting specialist. >> but you're in charge of it. you have got to have oversight. i'm deeply disturbed we're talking about a fight that started off with an expectation of cost. it has gone way off the charts and there is no concern about that, all right? this is not about health care.
5:28 am
this is about a website that from the very beginning, after three years and all this investment, we still can't get up and onto it? and if i asked you a question of who is in charge and you say you are, i expect you to answer who was there, how did this person get the bid, were they held accountable for their lack of performance and is there a performance bond in there that allows the american people to retain their money, because not one penny came from the government, it came from the taxpayers. >> i'd be happy to get you -- >> the idea that somehow there is an answer in the future is unacceptable. we have driven the gap between what the american people expect and what they now expect is so little. you know, in my little town in pennsylvania, they had a bid for police cars. you know part of that bid was a 10% performance bond that was included? i can't understand how a little town that has a 7.8 or $7.9
5:29 am
million budget can ask for those types of guarantees from bidders, responsible bidders, and the united states government cannot. and the cost of this, if it really started off, and you expected somewhere around $100 million to be spent and it's now up over $600 million and that doesn't include any of the other rollout costs. can we actually sit here and talk to the american people with any degree of confidence and say, we've got your best interests at heart here. we've also got your wallets and we're going to drain them. this is an absolutely incredible, incredible lack of efficiency and responsibility on behalf of the administration, and it doesn't surprise me. this is the way they operate with every single thing, and i can't believe that everybody is finding this out because of what they read in the newspaper? if you read the model, if you had the model, if you had the tests going, you couldn't possibly sit here today and say it's going exactly the way we
5:30 am
expected. >> okay, time is expired. any member wishing to submit a question for the record will have 14 days to do so, and if any members have questions at this hearing, i would ask that the administrator respond in writing in a timely manner. again, i want to thank administrator tab, and i appreciate your offer for regular updates as we move forward. with that, this committee is adjourned. >> thank you.
5:31 am
stability us -- kathleen sebelius will testify today. >> the mother of trayvon martin will testify on a panel on standard ground laws. ground laws. on health care law on "washington journal" at 7:00 eastern. i am a firm believer in the unauthorized biography. it does not mean untrue.
5:32 am
it means that you are doing it without the cooperation and blessing of your subject. i believe it is a legitimate and wonderful way to cover history. thatially public figures have spent many years and millions of dollars creating their own image. so i think it is valuable sometimes to go behind that. usually i am the one who is trying to get behind that and tell you what is going on. kelley sitsr kitty down for your calls and comments live for three hours beginning at noon eastern on book tv. ahead, look for other book tv guests.
5:33 am
don't forget you have a few more days to post your comments on this month's book selection "walking with the wind. h" the mother of trayvon martin testified on capitol hill yesterday. 30 states have some type of stand your ground law on the books. durbin chairs the committee. >> effective sql can ask you all to please stand. it is customary to administer the oath before the subcommittee. will your testimony be the
5:34 am
truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so hope you got? let the record reflect that the witnesses answered in the affirmative. each witness will be given five minutes for an opening statement. any written statement will be admitted without objection. our first witness is sabrina fulton. she is the mother of trayvon martin. her son was shot and killed at the age of 17 on the night of in sanford,6, 2012 florida. -- torents have created provide support and advocacy for the victims. she is a graduate of florida memorial university. thank you for coming here today. please proceed with your testimony. thank you so much for taking
5:35 am
the time to listen to what i have to say and the rest of the people who are testifying as well. by nature, i am a mother. of two boys. i still support both of my sons. though trayvon is not with us, it is very important i tried to make a change for not only my oldest son, still here on here on earth, but also trayvon. it is unfortunate was -- what has happened with trayvon. that is why i feel it is so important for me to be here so that you all can at least put a face with what has happened with this tragedy. trayvon had recently turned 17 years old. he had only been 17 for three
5:36 am
weeks. we celebrated his 17th birthday february 5 and he was murdered on february 26. he had only been 17 for three weeks. it is very hurtful to know that he was only simply going to the store to get snacks. nothing more. nothing less. it is important to keep that in mind. teenagers like to be independent at times. he was simply going to get a candy. thatme tells me right there his
5:37 am
mentality. that tells me he was not going to get cigarettes or bullets or condoms or other items of net -- of that nature. he was going to get a drink and candy. trayvon was minding his own business. he was not looking for any type of trouble. he was not committing any crime. that is important to remember. that the things that surround the tragedy that happened are most important, at the time that this happened to him, he was on a telephone call with a young lady from miami. that shows his mentality. that shows he was not looking for trouble. he was not the criminal that some people have tried to make him out to be. he was not the criminal the person who shot and killed him
5:38 am
thought that he was. he was simply on his cell phone talking to a young lady in miami with candy and a drink. as i think about this, as a mother, and i think about how many kids walked to the store, and how many kids now feel they cannot be safe in their own community, i think about what kind of message we are sending as parents, as lawmakers, as elected officials, even as grandparents and aunts and uncles. what kinds of messages are we sending if our kids -- because, remember, these are our kids in our communities, they don't feel safe.
5:39 am
they don't feel safe simply walking into the store to get candy and a drink. so, i just wanted to come here to talk to you for a moment to let you know how important it is that we amend this stand your ground. it did not work in my case. the person who shot and killed my son is walking the streets today and this law does not work. we need to seriously take a look at this law. we need to seriously speak with the state attorney's office, the police departments, more attorneys, we need to do something about this law when our kids cannot feel safe in their own community. thank you. we are sorry for your loss.
5:40 am
thank you for your courage in coming today. thank you also to trayvon's father. law clinical professor of at harvard law school. he previously taught at yale law school. his ba for morehouse and his law degree from harvard. please proceed. >> thank you very much. good morning. let me also joined the chair and others in sharing and offering my condolences to you, ms. fulton. stander to understand your ground laws, we must appreciate the broader context.
5:41 am
sanctity of human life is a central value in our legal system. this is not a particularly controversial claim. interpreters and courts alike have recognized that human life is sacred. those who would extinguish human life carry a heavy burden. stand your ground laws, like all self-defense laws, require the heightened showing of necessity. the particular version of florida's 2005 law differs drastically from other laws and from the common law of self- defense in three respects. first, these laws remove the common law duty to retreat. emboldens individuals to escalate a situation. the duty to retreat implies a duty to safely retreat.
5:42 am
thend, they shift reasonable presumption of fear. law, he may beda presumed to be fearful. this removes the responsibility to affirmatively show the necessity to take a human life. thirdly, it has the unintended effect of encouraging vigilante is some that normal law prevents. these issues at length in my written testimony. i also analyze the impure coal evidence. cole -- empirical evidence. decreaseat these laws the incidence of crime, i think there are correlations there, but i have not found causal
5:43 am
evidence. has littleground impact on homicide reduction. correlate with an increase in certain types of violent crime. time does not permit me more detail. i will make observations about trayvon martin. mr. zimmerman's acquittal was made possible because the stand your ground law and concealed -- theyaw conspired allowed him to carry a loaded firearm, disregarded 911 dispatcher, and to stand his ground when trayvon sought to defend himself.
5:44 am
to mr. zimmerman, marked blackness likely served as a crude proxy for criminality. this sends a twofold message. theylls floridians that can profile young black children, kill them, and be protected. it also sends a more ominous message to young black children. toonsider myself fortunate live in a jurisdiction that does not have these laws. but what if it did? i have an african-american son who is just shy of his 13th birthday. what advice would i give him? i regret the only responsible of ice if i lived in such a ifisdiction -- jurisdiction would be to use any force to protect himself.
5:45 am
i would rather my son be alive and able to argue that he stood his ground than dead and portrayed by lawyers and the media and politicians as some stereotypical black male criminal. americanot a desirable for anyone. i don't want my son growing up in such an america. i suggested that states pass police and citizens to go about the communities -- process of building communities. thank you. our next witness is the theident and ceo of association of prosecuting attorneys. he was the director of the american prosecutors research institute. he was also a deputy district attorney in orange and humble
5:46 am
counties inhumboldt california. please proceed. >> good morning. thank you for the opportunity to testify. we support and enhance prosecutors in creating safer communities. the association of prosecuting apa, iys -- on behalf of am pleased to address the issues around the stand your ground laws. we seek to do justice for victims and hold offenders accountable, especially when life has been violently ended. since 2009, we have tracked the legislative progression of stand your ground. testimonyached my
5:47 am
with our statement of principles. these laws raise troubling and dangerous concerns. we have overwhelmingly opposed stand your ground laws. include theconcerns limitation or elimination of prosecutors being able to hold violent criminals accountable. the need tosh retreat, and the common law. violent acts can be committed with justification. these laws have negatively affected public safety and police procedures. they have stymied prosecutors. in some states, courts have
5:48 am
interpreted the law to create community hearings to transfer the role of jury to judge. there has been inconsistent application throughout the states and even within states. all have been left to guess what behavior is legal and what is criminal. families,, victims, friends, trial courts, prosecutors -- they have been forced into a case-by-case analysis with no legal certainty of what to expect once i life has been taken. prosecutors from bringing cases against those who claim self-defense after unnecessarily killing others. in florida 2008, a jugular killed two men in two separate dealer killedrug two men in two separate incidents. conclude thatd to
5:49 am
both incidents were legal understand your ground laws. ground laws.d your prosecutorial of discretion -- i have not seen evidence of the contrary. after reviewing the legislative it involved no arrest or prosecution. the law enforcement community responded properly and the homeowner was not arrested or charged. vary,e the laws very, -- i will summarize. the meaning of unlawful activity -- many states have extended protection to people who are in a place where they have a right
5:50 am
to be but are not engaged in a lawful activity. granted in rarely criminal law. should reviewe the immunity provisions and clarify the self-defense provisions. -- this coupled with an objective standard will approve accountability while protecting the right of self- defense. amended.te should be some laws allow a person to attack a person with deadly -- the initial aggressor cannot escape. we recommend that the lobby limited -- lobby limited. -- law be limited.
5:51 am
it should not be applicable against a law officer. reformsgether, these will help minimize the detrimental effects of these laws and restore the abilities of investigators and prosecutors to fully enforce the law while continuing to respect the law -- rights of law-abiding citizens. thank you for holding this hearing. that the to reflect decision to take life is one of the most solemn decisions any person can ever raise or be faced with. it should not be taken my leg. public policy -- be taken lightly. public policy should not encourage it. changed.s are forever the individual who takes -- thank you. a senior fellow in
5:52 am
constitutional studies at the cato institute. on rule special advisor of law issues to the multinational force in iraq. he received an undergraduate degree from princeton, a masters from the london school of economics, and a law degree from the university of chicago law school. please proceed. >> thank you for this opportunity. it is most appropriate that this hearing was originally scheduled for september 17. public schools have to teach about our founding document. celebratestion obstetrician date by releasing our supreme court review. in reality, every day is constitution day. stand your ground is
5:53 am
tremendously misunderstood. all it does is allow people to defend themselves without having so-called duty to retreat. that concept has been part of u.s. law for over 150 years. 31 states have some type of stand your ground doctrine. the vast majority in common law, before legislature took any action. california and virginia maintain it without any legislation still. of the 15 states that have passed stand your ground since 2005, a majority have democratic governors. louisiana and west virginia past them with democratic control of both houses. even florida passed the state senate and split democrats in the house. obamasenator barack cosponsored a bill that was
5:54 am
unanimously approved. many red states impose a duty to retreat. indeed, it is a universal principle that a person can use force when she reasonably believes that it is necessary defend against the use of eminent force. she is justified in using deadly force if she reasonably believes it necessary to prevent bodily harm. it is not an easy defense to assert. it certainly does not mean you can shoot first and ask questions later. these are not a license to be a vigilante. why this debate is not new. in ancient britain, when the deadliest weapons were sorts, a duty to retreat greatly reduced blood feuds.
5:55 am
despite what gun prohibitionists claim, the no retreat rule has deep roots in american law. unanimous 1895 case of beard versus the united states. in places with the duty to retreat, crime victims can be defended for defending imprisoned for defending themselves. domestic violence victims are duty to retreat. feminists support and -- stand your ground. laws are to support a law- abiding citizens. it is bad enough for an innocent person to find herself threatened by a criminal, but to then have to worry about whether she can retreat lest she faced lawsuits -- that is too much to ask.
5:56 am
detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife. nearly a century later, we should not demand more. any self-defense rule bears the prospect of injustice. person altercation, one may be dead and the other may do be a sleek claim of defense. zimmerman was the aggressor, then he has no soft defense rights at all. if trayvon attack zimmerman, the only question is whether zimmerman believed he was in danger, not whether he could have retreated. if zimmerman provoked the not falltion, he does under stand your ground. while anti-gun lobbyists have used that tragedy and trayvon martin to pitch all sorts of gun
5:57 am
control laws, what they really target is the right to armed self-defense. prosecutors need to show evidence to counter claims of self-defense, not simply argue that the shooter should have retreated. for those of all you do process -- due process, that is a feature. i should mention one episode that has contributed to the sensationalism around this debate. i have submitted with this chairman durban's response and cato's response. >> thank you. our next witness is the of the crime prevention research center. he previously served at the universe -- university of chicago and yale. he is a weekly columnist and
5:58 am
contributor for "fox " please proceed. >> thank you very much. stand your ground laws help people be able to defend themselves. the people who are most likely to be victims of violence crime -- violent crime are poor blacks who benefit from the option of being able to protect themselves. what is being lost is the reason adopted these laws. florida, blacks make up about 16% of the population but they account for 31% of the dates -- state's defendants and stand
5:59 am
your ground -- in stand your ground prosecutions. there is detailed data on stand your ground cases up through july 24 of this year. the newspaper collected 112 cases. the information that they had were shocking findings. who killed a black person were not convicted. 80% of those who will the hispanic were not convicted. the vast majority of these crimes are within race. 90% of blacks who were killed and stand your ground cases were killed by other blacks. almostcase of whites,
6:00 am
85%. in the case of hispanics, 100%. the basic point is that you are if you're going to concentrate on the fact that relatively few people who kill blacks are going to bethe basic point is, you hae to realize that almost all of those people who are not being convicted or blacks. 69% of blacks who raised the "stand your ground" defense were not make it. that compares to less than 62% for whites. 82% of hispanics who raised the "stand your ground" are not convicted. if blacks are supposedly being discriminated against because the killers are so often not facing any of these, one of it also follow that blacks are be ifcriminated in favor of their commitment much lower rates than other racial groups? the problem also is not all these cases are the same. incks are killed
6:01 am
13% pointsons were more likely to be armed than whites. margins like% skill by other bikes were more often in the process of committing another crime. they also work involved in cases where they were more likely to have a witness present. if you go and run regressions where they account for other factors that were brought up by find is set, what you why defendants are more likely to be convicted by black defendants. people invoking "stand your wered" laws to kill blacks also more likely to be convicted then those who killed whites. what you find when you look at it, and fortunately this is the case, the people who initiate the conversation will be more likely convicted. when there were eyewitnesses, there were less likely to be convicted. than individuals were more
6:02 am
one person were killed were also much more likely to result in convictions. the institute report that was brought up earlier actually shows the opposite of what has been quoted here. important thing to mention, john roman, who wrote this, noted "stand your ground loss appears to exacerbate racial differences," but it knowledge is his data lacks detail available in the "tampa bay tribune" data." -- data. if you go through his paper, what you find is no data, no information on whether an eyewitness saw the competition, onevidence -- no data whether there was physical evidence. no evidence on a whole range of things in order to try to factor those into account. hisbig thing if you look at study, the central finding is to
6:03 am
look at table three, and what you find is when blacks are under "stand your ground" laws, their situation in terms of conviction rates actually fall. if you look at the texas a&m study that was mentioned, they do not account for any other gun-control laws. you're going to look at "stand your ground" laws whether you have right to carry, the number of people of permits is important. if you're talking about castle doctrines, whether people are able to get quick access to guns is going to be important. again, nothing about gun laws are accounted for in those studies. when you do that, the results also disappear. >> thank you, mr. lott. our final witnesses lucia mcbeth. mcbeth is the mother of jordan russell davis, who was shot and killed on november 23, 2012 at a gas station in taxable, florida. ron,nd jordan's father, have become advocates for reducing gun violence.
6:04 am
she is the national spokesperson for an organization known as moms demand action for guns that in america. she recently found to be walk with jordan scholarship foundation providing assistance for graduating high school students. she is a graduate of virginia state university, and before you say a word, i would like to thank all the members of the panel for their patients in a be rescheduling of this hearing. we had a chance to meet what was previously reschedule, and i am glad we had those moments. please proceed with your testimony. >> thank you. good morning, chairman durban and honor members of the subcommittee. my name is lucia mcbath. i was raised in a family steeped in justice. and confident in the triumph of goodness of humanity. my mother was a registered nurse , and my father, who served in -- corpsarmy dental or
6:05 am
was also for 20 years president of the naacp for the state of illinois. actively with the president lyndon b. johnson and the signing of the civil rights act of 1964. if he could see me here today, testifying in front of the u.s. beaming withuld be pride and amazed at how far his daughter had come until he came to understand what brought me here. i have -- i appear before he because my son, jordan, was shot and killed last november while sitting in the backseat of a friends car listening to loud music. the man who killed him opened teenagers,r unarmed even as they try to move out of harms way. that man was empowered by the
6:06 am
"stand your ground" statute. i'm here to tell you there was no ground to stand. there was no threat. no one was trying to invade his home, his vehicle, nor threatened him or his family. there was a vociferous argument about music during which the didsed, michael dunn, not feel that he was treated with respect. you are not going to talk to me like that, he shouted as he sprayed the car that jordan sat in with bullets. killing him instantly. when jordan's friends try to back the car away, mr. dunn aimed his handgun and fired off several more rounds. nine total. pierced the car.
6:07 am
there are any number of ways that this interaction might have gone, but there was only one way it could have ended once a gun into the equation. in florida, over one million people carry concealed weapons. to 15,000ly, 10,000 more floridians are approved to carry guns in public every month, faster than any state in the nation. nationally, florida has some of the loosest permitting requirements. automobile glove boxes are becoming modern-day gun boxes. glove box, michael done kept a nine millimeter semiautomatic gun along with two loaded magazines. once he had unloaded his gun at teenage friends,
6:08 am
he immediately went back to his hotel, ordered a pizza, and slept. he left the scene and made no attempt to call police. he retreated, but only after he killed my son. the next morning, he was arrested two hours away . those are hardly the actions and motives of someone who was quaking with fear. some will tell you that the argument was about music, but i believe that it was about the availability of guns and the eagerness to hate. feele like mr. dunn empowered to use their gun instead of their voice to reason with others. now i face a very real possibility that my son's killer will walk free among hiding
6:09 am
behind the statute that lets people claim a threat where there was none. declares open season on anyone that we don't trust for reasons that we don't even have to understand. they don't even have to be true. armedence, it allows any citizen to self deputize themselves and establish their own definition of law and order. it lets one and all define their own criteria for right and wrong and how justice will be carried out. even the wild west had more stringent laws governing the taking of life than we have now. defies all ground" reason. it goes against the sound system of justice established long ago on this very ill. -- very hill.
6:10 am
my son was named for the jordan river. in the bible, that river symbolized the crossing to freedom. its waters marked the final steps to liberation, and offered up the holy stream that baptized jesus. its name seemed a fitting choice for a boy born at the end of the 20th century, a time when black people in this country had finally come into their own. jordan was named for change in the tide, a decision to try harder and do better. he was my only child. he was raised with love and learning in a clear understanding of right and wrong. i have been without jordan now since things giving weekend 2012. without him last christmas and on his birthday in february.
6:11 am
i never got to take a prom duate from see him gra high school. i can tell you all about him. about his easy smile. his first girlfriend. and his plans to join the marines. i can tell you how he loved his dad's gumbo, and how they both rooted for the new york giants, but you can never really know my boy because an angry man who owned a gun kept it close at hand and chose to demonstrate unbridled hatred one balmy evening for reasons i will never understand. these laws empowered his prejudice beliefs and subsequent rage over my son's own life, his liberty and pursuit of happiness.
6:12 am
there will be made no sense of any of it in i and the families of other victims speak out to assure that this kind of predatory violence ends. it was 50 years ago that my father shook hands with eleanor roosevelt. she assured him of the validity of his struggle and the promise of better times. did, believe that this nation was righteous to the core, that we as a country would never stop striving to do better , and that was what made us better. honorable men and women of the senate, you can prove them right today. with your help and willingness to bring our laws back to the true tenets of justice, you can lift this nation from its
6:13 am
internal battle in which guns rule over right. you have the power to restore hope to a nation crying out for justice. i pray that you hear the will of the lord. thank you. mcbath. you, ms. we will now turn to questions for the witness, and each member of the many will have seven minutes. i will start. thank you for your courage in coming here today. i find it hard to understand those who defend "stand your ground" by arguing that african- americans should celebrate these laws. this ison that somehow to the benefit of african or minorities in this country just defies the stories that we have been told by both of you.
6:14 am
children --ldren -- killed in the name of self- defense, when in neither instance was her evidence of aggressive or violent combat by these victims, these young men who were shot down. professor sullivan, you've heard these arguments made, to members of the panel and a member here, about this notion that somehow african-americans should view this as a positive thing on "stand your ground." what would you respond? >> i would agree with your statement, senator durbin, it is not a positive thing for any one were citizens of the united states are running russian each other. whether the perpetrator is african american or the victim is african-american, it really does not matter. we do not live in the wild wild west air any longer. anvate law enforcement has effect on our country, and we should leave it to trained police officials to engage in
6:15 am
this sort of behavior. your testimony, i've read over last night and again this morning, and i was particularly moved by one section of it that i would like to repeat. stated "by expanding the realm in which violent acts can be committed without the justification of self-defense, "stand your ground" laws have negatively affected public health and undermined prosecutor ial and law enforcement officers to keep communities safe t." you then go on to talk about a specific case. "a 29-year-old drug dealer killed two men in two separate incidents. the first drug-related, the second over retaliation for the first. though he was engaged in a law -- in unlawful activity in both instances, selling drugs during the first shooting, using an illegal gun in the second, prosecutors had to glue the boat, sites were justified under
6:16 am
the florida "stand your ground" law." unfortunately, you going to say "this example is not an anomaly. the majority of defendants shall live by "stand your ground" laws had arrest records prior to the homicide at issue." a personcalled representing the national association of criminal defense attorneys, maybe some people would have understood oh, i can see where they're going. but in your case, you were present the profession of those who prosecute criminal, and you are saying "stand your ground" laws are not working to the benefit and defense of america. tell me why you have come to the conclusion. >> well, senator, i think you give the example, and i can give the committee additional examples, but i was stuck right away with your question about the national association of criminal defense lawyers. we workf of apa, closely with the defense bar, and this is one of the areas in which we divert.
6:17 am
this is good for the defense. when i testified that -- down in florida, this is good for the defendant -- >> you are saying the criminal defense lawyers were arguing that "stand your ground" were good for criminal defendants. >> that the role of the criminal defense attorney is to get their client off on the criminal action. the role of the prosecutors to seek justice. so on behalf of of the criminal defendants, this is a good law. look at the ambiguities that are here, look at the specific examples. you talk about -- here is a drug dealer. at the time of the killing, he was not selling. if he had been selling drugs, it would have been unlawful activity. but he was in a place he had the right to be, and he was not selling at that moment, therefore he had a bright to defend himself. the second piece -- as i mentioned in my testimony -- if someone is a convicted felon, t to possess righ
6:18 am
a firearm. yet, they can go ahead under "stand your ground" and use that and not be be free held accountable. the stories are unbelievable. january 2012, another florida , the the victim -- again victim of the shooting did something wrong, no question about that, but in this situation, someone sees their car being burglarized. they go-ahead, they yell at them, get out of my car. they chased them down and knifed them to death. they never reported it, never called 911, never said anything about it, and then when confronted said i was defending my property. example, november 2007, the one case -- the horn case that was broadly
6:19 am
disseminated out to the country. the gem and looks and sees his neighbor's house being in, calls 911 to report it, 911 urged him to stay in your house, we will get him and take care of it. no, instead he goes ahead and shoots both of those two, and i believe they were juvenile dead, and then goes ahead and exercises "stand your ground," and that when in front of the harris county grand jury. the risk county grand jury found that to be "stand your ground." -- the harris county grand jury found that to be "stand your ground." nityunity is crazy -- immu is crazy. it should be an affirmative defense. on behalf of prosecutors, these acts of the nothing but causes difficulties. >> believes that this law is an invitation for confrontation. historically -- it appears that this law is an invitation for confrontation. if you could safely retreat, that was your duty, except in your home. the castle doctrine i believe made it clear, a distinction
6:20 am
when it came to your home and that circumstance. but the scum of the "stand your ground -- but the new laws, the "stand a resultnd" laws, have of unreasonablenesseness. could either of you testify about how florida could change their law and what their reason for a reason for a change? >> i think they are raising as a reason for a change the fact that the law produces absurd result. of the things they are thinking about changing is clearly establishing this principle of first aggressor, and whether first wrestle -- first aggressors can avail themselves of the law. if i can,treat, senator, is important because i have heard comments today that are plainly wrong with respect to historically what duty to
6:21 am
retreat means. it means safely retreat. it is not mean stand there foolishly and he brutalized because of some law. if it is unsafe to retreat, nowhere in our history is an individual required to retreat. rather, only if it is safe to retreat. this is just the norm of good judgment, the exercise of good judgment, a norm that prevents a sort of bench elliptic -- vigilante is on that we see in these many cases that were cited. florida shouldk tweak the immunity provision. my point is that immunity along with the changing presumption conditions a certain response in people. that is people that know this law behave in a way, a much more aggressive, privateers man-like -- frontiersman-like way.
6:22 am
it is quite different from the has for a cold self-defense laws quite the fist -- it is different from the historical self-defense laws. 2005 marks an extreme difference in the way that these laws were written. >> thank you. >> mr. chair, thank you. to respond to your question about florida, the other significant thing that florida is doing and has passed out of the committee is the immunity provision. they are working on that -- there was the civil courts and -- civil portion to save someone's brazen pillar number of people in "stand your ground ," that they should not be civil immune, especially hitting an innocent bystander. i testified in front of the commission, and now they are stepping forward and changing the flawed law. may i had one other comment? william meigs was unable -- he is the second judicial circuit prosecutor out of florida. he was unable to attend today. his closing comments are so very
6:23 am
"shouldt, and that was we have a duty to act reasonably toward one another? that was the lobby for "stand your ground," and the law that we should return. firstakes it easy for the -- for the criminals to get away with the most heinous crimes." >> thank you. senator cruz. >> thank you, mr. senator. i would like to enter in for the record a statement from senator corn from texas. i would like to than -- from senator cornyn from texas. i would like to thank the panelists for being here. thank you for being here, thank you for sharing your stories. understands the mourning you are feeling. it is always a tragedy when i a child loses his life.
6:24 am
please know that we are all feeling your loss and express our very sincerest condolences. thisof the discussion afternoon has concerned the tragic circumstances of the trayvon martin case. none of us into this hearing room were there that night. us knows precisely what happened. we do know that there was a aolent altercation between hispanic man and an african- american teenager, and we know that at the end of the confrontation, the teenager was dead. what exactly occurred that night no one in this room likely will know for sure. but we do know some things.
6:25 am
we know that our system of justice have a process for ascertaining what happens when there is a violent confrontation, particularly one that leads to loss of life. that process is a jury trial. a jury of mr. zimmerman's peers heard the evidence in that case. he was prosecuted in that case. and the jury rendered a conclusion. we don't know if the jury was right or wrong, but we do know that the jury system is the only system that our judicial system has for ascertaining what happened, particularly when you have a one-on-one confrontation come i can be particularly difficult to determine what the facts are. but we also know that the subject of this hearing, the "stand your ground" laws was not
6:26 am
a defense that mr. zimmerman raise. hearing, thee topping of this hearing is not the issue on which that trial turned. sadly, we know that some in our political process have a desire to exploit that tragic, violent incident. have -- thatho have nothing to do with that young man who lost his life. we have seen efforts to undermine the verdict of the jury, and more broadly to inflame racial tensions that i think are sad and irresponsible. the family,that for your sibley morning the loss of your son, and i understand that, but there are other players who
6:27 am
are seeking to do a great deal more based on what happened that florida night. thatld note additionally the chairman of this committee a , i thought, ae remarkable statement to the effect that no one could reasonably believe that "stand protect thoseaws in the african-american communities who are victims of violent crimes. i think that is a remarkable statement on many fronts, including the fact that a great many african-americans find themselves victims of island violent crime and have inserted this defense to defend themselves, defend their families, defender children. remarkablefind it because the assertion that no one reasonably could suggest this benefit of the african intocan community is drawn
6:28 am
remarkable relief when one keeps 2004, a staten senator in illinois by the name of a rock obama -- of barack obama cosponsored an expansion --illinois's law abiding providing immunity for those to use the law to defend themselves. the notion that "stand your ground" laws or some form of veiled racism may be a convenient lyrical attack -- political attacks, but it is not borne out by the facts. note the secondly issue of an organization that exists to encourage commonsense legislation in state legislatures. i would like to enter into the record multiple letters that have been submitted to me by organizations that are concerned about the targeting of alex in
6:29 am
conjunction with this hearing. it shouldte that seeys be a concern when you the united states senate targeting the exercise of free speech. this observation is not unique to me. indeed, on august 8, 2013, the chicago tribune wrote an editorial that stated "re-speech is not always free." "free speech is not always free." it gets cumbersome with senators have you honor him a list -- on their in them useless. it would be wrong to use this as a cudgel against his enemies, and i certainly hope that the senate hearing does not become an avenue to suppress free speech. a final point i would like to definition, the "stand your ground" law does not
6:30 am
apply to aggressors. explicitly excludes aggressors. i would note, ms. mcbath, the evening your son lost his life, the defense would not apply, would not even arguably applied. only, only,nse that only applies to those who are the victims or potential victims of other violent aggressors. indeed, it is only triggered when there is "an imminent attack that could cause death or serious bodily injury." that byis a doctrine definition is not up by to aggressors and it only applies when death or serious pottery and jewelry -- serious bodily injury. between aontation
6:31 am
violent aggressor in a potential innocent victim, a potential innocent victim seeking to protect himself, herself, or her children, with whom do we stand? i believe we should stand with the innocent against aggressors. that is why the right to self- defense has been so critical. i hope that we will not see the ofstitutional rights innocent citizens sacrificed because of political agendas of some. thank you. i asked the patience of my colleague from connecticut since the senator from texas has raised some personal issues. i am going to respond to them. let me be very specific when i say this -- don't take my word for it. take the testimony of director of the naacp washington bureau few issuest states "
6:32 am
have caused as much angst and raise as many deeply held concerns among our members and the communities we serve as that of "stand your ground" laws. these laws and their applications have sadly resulted in no less than the murder of people who were doing nothing more than walking down the street." the statement in the record by hilary shelton of the naacp. reference tod inflaming racial tensions, we've heard this before, over and over again. we have problems with the issue of race in america that we have to face squarely. when people are being discriminate against, whoever, wherever in america, the subcommittee on the constitution civil rights and human rights is not going to back away. the second point i would like to make is this --there are many victims when it comes to "stand your ground" laws. alec is not one
6:33 am
of them. i will concede that i asked people who were publicly edified at supporters of this -- organization if they supported the "stand your ground" law. only one out of 140 that responded said that they supported it. i'm not going to enter the names into the record, for the very point is made by the senator from texas. i do not want to establish any killing effect on political participation, but i think it is risible to ask the members of an organization if they agree with that organization's agenda, an agenda which mr. piscopo, with eco is now the chairman of al from the safe connecticut say they no longer stand by. i'm not going to inter-names names into theer record. but isn't it interesting that only one supported alec's agenda on "stand your ground" laws? that is sad. senator blumenthal.
6:34 am
>> thank you, mr. chairman. is not only a legitimate but a necessary hearing. it is profoundly important that we face these issues of human rights, which hopefully are also matters of constitutional right, everyone ofo thank the witnesses, all of you for being here today, especially ms. , for your. mcbath stories and your first-hand experiment, which is so profoundly important because we can have theoretical and rhetorical debates here, but what really matters is what happens to these doctrines of law. courtroomeets, in the , when they are explained to juries. i say that as a prosecutor. mesecutors will often say to
6:35 am
that the most difficult times in prosecuting a case is when the judge tried to explain the law to a jury. how do you explain "stand your ground" in the complex, challenging, often emotionally- jury has to when a decide whether a person's liberty should be taken away, and sometimes even a person's life as a result of the alleged commission of a serious crime? and so i must say, mr. le bahn, your testimony has youral -- mr. labahn, testimony has special meaning to me. the myriad of fact, and try to
6:36 am
present them to a judge or a jury in a way that results in justice. thinked one word that i is profoundly important -- ambiguity. "stand your ground" as opposed to self-defense, even as i sit here, i wrestle with what the distinctions are in real life, and how they are explained to juries, and that is why i agree that thetor durbin ambiguity of these doctrines can encourage violence and confrontation. approval that it may give to people who feel that they've been insulted and may be threatened, not physically but
6:37 am
verbally, it seems to me can orult in a hope of acquittal non-conviction, and thereby encourage violence. maybe you can speak to how in the courtroom this doctrine of "stand your ground" has a practical impact. >> thank you, senator. here i am in front of not one for most attorney general but two former attorney generals. i have to be really good on my law, especially as you talk about the courtroom. first of all, what this law does is place it either as mortar -- as murder or nothing. you talk about the ambiguity. somebody chooses to take an action and chooses to intentionally kill another, and usually the role of the prosecutors with outside -- with homicide is a manslaughter or is it a murder, if it isn't murder,
6:38 am
isn't a first or second, are there special circumstances? the you put this, but perception in the immunity provisions in there, you create a situation where it furry difficult to determine what kind of a crime it is. but especially as it relates to florida, you are put into that box. it is either murder or nothing. secondly, there has been some discussion here about the aggressor, and i like the committee to look at that 776.041 of the florida statute and why "stand your ground" didn't apply any trayvon martin case and apply directly. says useause 776.041 of force by aggressor. clearly with in that statute, they allowed, and the person reasonably believed, so is a subjective belief by mr. zimmerman that he was about -- imminent danger -- that therefore justified his use of
6:39 am
force, which goes right with what one of the jurors said. the jurors follow the law. the law said you can use that reasonable force under the florida "stand your ground" if you believe that you are --sonably in inanimate bread in an imminent threat. the other test we use with ambiguity is how did the appellate decisions come out of a particular statute? how manyu know criminal statutes get past, how many in up appeal they get reduced -- how many end up appealed and get reversed. i say thes why ambiguity is incredibly apparent. just look at nexus if you want to see all the different ways that this has been appealed. >> in your experience, mr. labahn, do the members of your organization overwhelmingly share your view? >> they do. that is why i point to the
6:40 am
statement of principles. also the difference between the legislative branch as well as the executive branch. my members of the executive branch of a once a legislature steps forward and passes a law, we must do everything we can to try to seek justice in those cases just like what occurred in florida. and even with that opposition, they are enforcing it. >> in your experience, do the overwhelming majority of police officers share this you? >> again, the officers that i am working with, yes, very sincere. that is why i talk about justified killing an officer. i believe indiana flip that around and basically encourages come as you talk about public policy, to go ahead and take an and lets you at the citizen believes that that officer was following in the course and scope of employment. that is craziness. >> so police officers feel these laws may in effect represent a threat to them. -- back tobeauty --
6:41 am
the ambiguity. they might be serving a search for and, dare in plainclothes, not a uniform. i believe georgia's cases on point down. they require actual knowledge is that of an officer doing their job. officers don't know what to do when you have a statute that says you cannot arrest, yet you are supposed to investigate. what does that mean? >> i think you say well in your testimony when you say prosecutors -- and i'm quoting " prosecutors, judges, and ordinary citizens have been left to guess what behavior is legal and what is criminal." >> and there should not be an beauty in something like murder, senator. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. shapi schapiro, -- mr. ro, i know you have to leave and
6:42 am
catch a train. thank you for being here today. >> one of the questions in the debate is how diverse the states seem to be in terms of arriving at the same conclusion where you have michigan, nevada, new hampshire, pennsylvania -- with "stand your ground" laws, and you have a lot of southern states where -- i guess the point i'm trying to make, it seems to be that democrats and republicans, depending on what state you are from, sent to embrace these laws -- seem to embrace these laws. democratic governors have signed in "stand your ground" laws, so i hope this is not turn into the republicans are for it and the democrats are against it. it seems to be a pretty diverse mix of views. mr. sullivan, from the federal point of view, there are remedies available to the federal government if there has been an injustice that the state level. if that correct? -- is that correct? in any case, the trayvon martin
6:43 am
case, the case here in illinois, the justice department could if they chose pursue federal action. is that correct? >> absolutely. >> do you agree with attorney decision notder's to pursue a federal civil rights case in the trayvon martin? >> i do. needson the standard that to be satisfied in order to move forward with a case like that. the federal government would have to demonstrate that at the moment of the violence and counter mr.en zimmerman behave as he did as a function of racial animus, and i am not sure there is sufficient evidence therefore the federal government to go forward. so i tend to agree with that case -- with that decision on that basis, and also anymore credential basis that the federal government should be
6:44 am
cautious and exercise discretion and going in and upsetting a state verdict. you.agree with i hope i am not hurting your reputation. >> you have enhance my reputation, senator. >> i am honored that you would say that. i think that is a pretty reasonable view because i know there is a lot of pressure being applied to the attorney general and quite prickly the president. quite prickly the president here and we are talking about trying cases in the political arenas is not probably a good idea but having victims speak up, having mother speak up about losing their children, that is very appropriate, and i hope we will listen and learn where we can. a casewere defending like the trayvon martin case, would you have done is similar as the defense? >> you would have to be a little more specific -- >> is very thing run lucky defense in that case, anything
6:45 am
unethical -- is there anything wrong in that case, anything unethical? >> i will not charge a fellow lawyer with unethical behavior without knowing more. i was deeply troubled by the caricature of trayvon as a personification of a stereotype. trayvon martin a thug, trayvon martin as criminal. i was deeply troubled by that overlay over the criminal justice system. whether that violated florida's professional rules of conduct, i do not know, i have not studied them with any detail in order to make that sort of claim. that i would not have done. i will say -- >> have you ever defended a person accused of rape? >> personally? i have. >> have you ever questioned the victim? >> i have. ms. guess the point for
6:46 am
martens pointed you, your son was a fine young man. -- i guessto think the point from ms. martin's point of view, your son was a fine young man. the person expected to vigorously defend the interests of the client, and that is why we have rape shield laws. we are trying to get that balance between how far can you victim tocking the protect the rights of the accused. in terms of the racial implications of that case, i think that it seems to be from an objective point of view that -- mostour ground" laws violent crime is within the community itself, is that correct? >> that is exactly right. >> i am just trying to come to grips with the idea that somehow indulgences a racial
6:47 am
-- racial injustice about it. do you think it does, mr. sullivan? >> i think the impact of the law tilt. disparate, racial that troubles me profoundly. if it wasr ground" use in this particular case, if i can just amend what senator cruz said, is not entirely correct to say that "stand your ground" was not part of this case. mr. zimmerman did not avail himself of the immunity portion of "stand your ground," however the judge constructed consistent with florida law, which included an expressed statement of "stand your ground" if you felt like you were imminently in fear of death or bodily injury, then mr. zimmerman had his right to "stand your ground" and use deadly force in response.
6:48 am
i may have cited in my written testimony, if not, i will provide it. "stand your ground" was front and center in this case, just not the immunity portion of "stand your ground." ofmr. lott's rendition statistics were pretty compelling. i do not claim to be an expert in this area. i guess my politician's point of view, when you have people like governor granholm and joe manchin, somebody i actually know, i do not believe in their mind at the time they find these laws into law -- they signed these laws into law that they felt that that was what they were doing. can you understand how somebody could come to a different illusion? -- different conclusion? >> of course. i do not think legislator said anna said let's think about how we can criticized -- how we can prejudice minorities. the baggage unfortunately this country have sometimes, the laws express themselves in various sorts of ways.
6:49 am
in terms of the specifics, i , probablyt of time bore yourself senseless in terms of reading the statistical analysis there. friend, youpect my ask 10 economists a question, you get 11 different responses in terms of what the data means. there is a lot of noise. there is a lot of noise in the data. but what you do see is examples like jordan and trayvon, my only point of this committee and to the american public is that those are individuals. they are not data points, they were living and breathing citizens, whom we should care about. to the degree that the law results, and ise submit to that this result with martin, trayvon martin, was perverse, we do not know what is going to happen in the mcbath
6:50 am
case, but to the degree it is a possibility, it is something we should look at. >> well said. the point about trials, having been in court a few times, if you believe that mr. zimmerman -- that mr. martin was on top of mr. zimmerman and inflicting punishment, that would be a different view. you believe it was just walking to the candy and a soda, which he rbc was, you wonder how can somebody be dead because of that. this is so-called located. the one thing i don't want us to do as politicians is to take away the ability of when it is your day in court to avail yourself of a lawful defense that has been recognized. the question for me is -- have we gone too far? >> senator, thank you for allowing me because that is exactly what i was feeling and wanted to present.
6:51 am
there has been a large ,iscussion of justice harlan beard versus the united states. that is clearly an off justice standard. if you look in you say in a way and with such force as an under all circumstances, he at the moment honestly believed and had reasonable grounds to believe were necessary to save his own life and protect himself from great bodily injury. that is exactly the problem, and that is why there have been so much prosecutor opposition to the sort of direction. , and we stand by the verdict, as he said, there are many times it is a point of what happens in court. that occurs. but based upon the law as they drafted it, there is a subjective belief. what did he believe at that time was occurring versus it being objective as well as immunity, and that is where you get trouble. directorwhen i was the of the american prosecution research institute, we published
6:52 am
a piece on the castle doctrine well in advance. nappies, we were concerned about the racial implications because when you look to what upper -- ins and when you have that piece, we were concerned about racial implications. age, scan, whatever that might be. because that is subjective, and allows him to go ahead and believe they are under danger and take a life. thank you for letting me. to make a couple of comments. if you actually look at the data, look at the tampa bay tribune data there, account for the different factors in the ,ase, you find that minorities both blacks and hispanics, or have been more successful in raising "stand your ground" defenses than whites are. there is another point and easily made, and that is the ambiguity. one type of immunity has been discussed, but there is also the impurity that happened -- the
6:53 am
ambiguity that having to face the person who is facing self- defense. what is the appropriate amounts of them having to retreat when they are going to defend themselves? the issue here might be -- who do we want to have to make do with that ambiguity? when somebody is facing very quick decisions that they have to make in terms of life and death, do we want to make them have to bear the burden, to try to figure out at that time how far they are going to have to retreat? and then make them realize that they may be second-guessed, as i have an appendix that shows a number of cases where they were second-guessed, and cases were legislatures and others thought that the second-guessing was wrong there. that may make it worth somebody who may need to act in self defense is stopped from doing so and thus endangering the safety of themselves or their family members that are there. labahn, when he was talking about being able to go and happy "stand your ground"
6:54 am
apply, although you may be the initial aggressor there, he mentioned part of the law that he quoted. , but then it say with very strict or surgeons on how you can use it in that case. lawsys stand your ground not available to the person who initially promotes the use of force against himself or herself a, he or she resolves every means to escape other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm, or b, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates fairly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw answer make the use of force. the bottom line is pretty simple. under "stand your ground," if someone initially provokes somebody else, then they are required to retreat. i want to thank this panel
6:55 am
for your testimony and once again thank ms. fulton and ms. mcbahth. thank you for coming and reliving some painful moments so we could put this hearing into context. i think all the witnesses for your testimony. there has been a great deal of interest in today's hearing. ofty from the large members the vigils and organizations that have submitted a summary for today's hearing, including the end -- the nla city, the leadership conference on civil and american rights, the american nurses association, the center for media and democracy, the dream defenders, the american academy of pediatrics, the and delay succeed legal defense and education fund, the newtown action alliance, monster man action, and many, many more. they will all be included in the record without objection. i would like to say that when solicitation was sent out for those members, publicly listed to tell me their
6:56 am
status on his, volunteering if they were such information, some asked if their statement we made part of the record, and they will at the request. those that did not make that request will not be included. again, i do not want to create any chilling effects on purchase a patient in a -- on participation in american politics. it is important that we reserve our constitutional rights to do so, but i thought it was appropriate to find out that the members of the organization stood by that policy position that was stated during the record will be open for one week to accept additional statements. written questions for the witnesses must also be submitted by the close of business one week from today tiered will ask witnesses to respond to those questions probably to complete the record. if there are no former -- further comments, i want to thank the witnesses for today -- for attending, e is for to spank him and stand adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
6:57 am
6:58 am
6:59 am
in 45 minutes, we'll talk to congresswoman diane to get. we will have an update on the senateill and a house- conference committee will meet today to resolve two versions of the bill. later, smithsonian contributor,
7:00 am
david wise on his recent article , tiger trap. we will also take your phone calls come e-mails, and suites. -- and suites. tweets. >> good morning. all eyes up on capitol hill today with hhs secretary, -- kathleen sebelius and he hotseat over live coverage on c-span3 at 9:00 a.m. be toutingbama will the affordable care act in boston at the same place that mitt romney signed into law his health care initiative. that coverage also on c-span. sticking with the president

Key Capitol Hill Hearings
CSPAN October 30, 2013 5:00am-7:01am EDT

Series/Special. Speeches from policy makers and coverage from around the country. (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Florida 24, Illinois 10, Mr. Zimmerman 9, Us 8, Whitehouse 5, America 5, Jordan 5, Texas 5, Trayvon Martin 4, Chicago 4, Zimmerman 4, United States 3, New York 3, Virginia 3, Trayvon 3, Mr. Dunn 2, Mr. Sullivan 2, Naacp 2, Cms 2, Hhs 2
Network CSPAN
Duration 02:01:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel v24
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color

disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 10/30/2013